Between Justice and Politics

Leora Bilsky

in Hannah Arendt in Jerusalem

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780520220560
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520923669 | DOI:
Between Justice and Politics

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The case of the state of Israel against Adolf Eichmann was brought to trial in Jerusalem in 1961 and was concluded with the judgment of the court. The judgment was pronounced unanimously — the court spoke with one voice, providing the official (hi)story. Gideon Hausner, the attorney general in Eichmann's trial, took it upon himself to be the master storyteller. He claimed to speak with the voice of six million victims, six million accusers. Hannah Arendt, who came as a reporter for the New Yorker, was also a storyteller of the Eichmann trial. However, Arendt was not an official actor in the legal drama, and she deliberately took it upon herself to provide a counternarrative, the story that was not told but should have been told in the courtroom. This chapter focuses on two aspects of their respective stories. One might be called the “framework” of the narrative, its temporal and spatial boundaries. With respect to temporal boundaries, Hausner's story stretches to include the whole of Jewish history, while Arendt begins her story in the nineteenth century. With respect to spatial boundaries, Hausner's story focuses on the Jewish people, while Arendt's concern is humanity. The second way in which their narratives are compared concerns the question of who is to tell the story — that is, whether the story will be told through written documents or through the oral testimonies of survivors.

Keywords: Israel; Adolf Eichmann; Hannah Arendt; Gideon Hausner; Jewish history; narrative; story

Chapter.  8805 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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